Uncensored Enid Blyton books with ‘outdated’ language are ‘being stashed in off-limits spaces by librarians’
- Some of Enid Blyton’s original versions are put in ‘off-limits’ sections of libraries
- This is to ensure readers don’t ‘stumble upon’ some of ‘outdated language’ used
Enid Blyton’s classic novels are beloved globally but some of her works have been rewritten to remove ‘outdated’ language.
And uncensored versions are being placed in ‘off-limit storage spaces’ in libraries to prevent the public from ‘stumbling upon’ the old wording.
Recently edited works are displayed publicly across Devon’s libraries but tales which have not yet been amended are not so easy to access.
If a reader requests an original version of titles like The Famous Five, they will be shown a verbal trigger warning, according to The Telegraph.
The original versions are catalogued online and if a reader chooses to access one, a warning system will remind them of the language used within the older editions.
Enid Blyton’s classic novels are beloved globally but some of her works have been rewritten to remove ‘outdated’ language
The changes were revealed in Devon County Council documents.
It was explained that Library Unlimited – which runs the council’s library service – regularly audits books, replacing them with altered versions.
The documents say that where popular titles contain ‘increasingly outdated’ language, libraries purchase new, edited versions.
The off-limits area of libraries also contains books that have been removed due to staff or customer complaints – such as the autobiography of previously-incarcerated Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League.
Blyton composed more than 700 books, including beloved titles like The Famous Five series and Noddy, from the late 1930s until she died in 1968.
But publishing house Hodder confirmed in 2010 that Blyton’s works would be refreshed in order to make them ‘timeless’.
In January last year, Jacqueline Wilson gave The Magic Faraway Tree a rewrite to remove ‘sexist expectations’ of female characters, with domestic chores for the girls replaced with a lesson on gender equality.
And in February, Blyton’s Famous Five and Malory Towers books saw words such as ‘brown’ with reference to tanned faces, ‘queer’ and ‘gay’ changed to bring them up to date.
A description of ‘a brown-faced fisher-boy’ was ‘changed to a suntanned fisher-boy’, while ‘Where’s George? She wants spanking’ became ‘She wants a good talking to.’
English Heritage released updated blue plaque information in 2021 saying Blyton’s booked had been linked to ‘racism and xenophobia’.
Examples of ‘racism’ within the books include 1966’s The Little Black Doll, in which the main character ‘Sambo’ is only accepted by his owner ‘once his “ugly black face” is washed “clean” by rain’, while in Noddy, ‘golliwogs’ were changed to ‘goblins’.
English Heritage also now cites that publisher Macmillan refused to publish The Mystery That Never Was over its ‘old-fashioned xenophobia’ towards foreign characters.
Dr Byrn Harris, legal counsel for the Free Speech Union told The Telegraph: ‘We are bemused by the decision to treat the author of Noddy as dangerous and subversive samizdat.’
He claimed that libraries have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service and alleged ‘holding back certain works and making them less accessible might fall short of that standard.’
Dr Harris also alleged the reasoning for the books being placed out of public sight was of ‘dubious relevance’, despite the many previous criticism of Blyton’s works.
‘If public libraries insist on having a censorship policy then users, especially children and their parents or guardians, must be clearly informed that the library’s holdings may not be comprehensive as a result of the policy,’ Dr Harris added.
MailOnline has approached Devon County Council and Libraries Unlimited for comment.